FIFA and football stuck with Jar Jar Blatter
Even the Emperor was thrown down that Death Star reactor shaft thing in the end. But Sepp Blatter somehow survives, threatening us all with a fifth term as FIFA president.
The questions are endless. Should a 78-year-old’s withered fingers still hover over the controlling buttons of the world’s most powerful sport? How can an individual combine fear and farce so disastrously and remain so alarmingly omnipotent? (And why doesn’t a reactor shaft inside a man-made Death Star have more protection than a flimsy guardrail?)
Answers are hard to come by. Despite all evidence and execrable comments to the contrary, Blatter assumes he is one more election victory away from immortality. His mission to take a branded football to every corner of the globe, along with a licensed soft drink and an official happy meal, will be complete.
If he heals the world and makes it a better place, then Blatter believes he’ll be bracketed somewhere between Martin Luther King and Bono. If nothing else, he’ll have a nice line in singing Michael Jackson covers.
But his Blitzkrieg advance across untapped territories, proudly taking the World Cup’s coterie of corporate acolytes from the shantytowns of South Africa to the (already forgotten) favelas of Brazil, sits uncomfortably with his critics.
Even the Emperor had Darth Vader to take him out and save the world from Mark Hamill’s acting. But who’s big enough to take out Blatter? The Fifa president stands alone, unassailable and uncensored to dribble on about “tighter shorts” being needed to boost the women’s game, like a leering uncle licking his lips whenever Halle Berry appears on TV.
Comparisons to dictators and megalomaniacs are easy and obvious, but if Blatter shares the reach of a Bond villain, he usually fails to match their grasp on reality. Apart from his queasy quest for supremacy, the only ‘quality’ the FIFA president has in common with the likes of Goldfinger is the archaic sexism. He once ordered FIFA's female board members to “say something, ladies, you’re always speaking at home.” Goldfinger had Pussy Galore. Blatter is a feminist’s bore.
And still, the global ruler analogies do Blatter a disservice. They fail to fully capture the verbal ineptitude of the man. Witty and incisive one-liners are not his forte - as long as one doesn’t include his jaw-dropping boast that Fifa is “trying to help and bring a solution that is really, really difficult between Israel and Palestine”. That’s either comedy gold or extremely crass, childish and insensitive, depending on your grasp of history and your own sanity.
Football was briefly involved in the famous Christmas truce of 1914, when German and British troops stopped fighting, exchanged pleasantries and argued over the offside rule, but FIFA's ability to bring peace in the Middle East exists only in Blatter’s mind. He should declutter and rid himself of such thoughts so there’s enough space in his think-tank to shout “tight shorts” and “shake hands, racists.”
His penchant for excruciating, nauseating outbursts make him less a cackling, maniacal villain and more Jar Jar Binks, loping into the latest global football convention to shake hands with fawning minions, smile inanely and exclaim: “Mesa called Jar-Jar Blatter. Mesa your humble servant for the next four years. Mesa gonna fix da lady game with da tight shorts and da big boobies. That’s why you no liking me meesa thinks.”
Taken together, Blatter’s soundbites in recent years feel like a Jar Jar Binks highlights reel, complete with trite, child-like wisdom and an underlying offensiveness, leaving the listener with an irrepressible urge to punch something (not literally, of course, this column seeks to promote fair play, respect and equality through the unifying power of a FIFA piss-take.)
When Blatter is not encouraging Palestine and Israel to shake hands, he is suggesting that footballers involved in race-related arguments should do the same. When asked to comment on the World Cup being awarded to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, the peacemaker replied: “I’d say they (gay fans) should refrain from any sexual activities.”
The FIFA president has mocked Cristiano Ronaldo, defended diving, called for the abolition of draws and - a personal favourite - plunged himself into the debate concerning John Terry having an affair with Wayne Bridge’s old girlfriend by saying “if this had happened in, let’s say Latin countries, then I think he would have been applauded.”
Even George Lucas had the good sense to quietly relegate Jar Jar Binks to the silver screen’s shadows, but Blatter remains front and centre, goofily grinning at his global audience, continuing on his mission to entertain and appall with one inexcusable comment after another.
With UEFA's chief executive Michel Platini unlikely to stand against him, the FIFA president’s re-election looks a formality. We’re stuck with him for another four years; the glib gift that keeps on giving.
If Sepp Blatter were a cartoon character, he’d look and sound exactly like Sepp Blatter.